Yorkshire mother who disappeared aged 34 finally declared dead 40 years on

Dawnay Road, in Bilton, where Mrs Bielby was last seen in 1979
Dawnay Road, in Bilton, where Mrs Bielby was last seen in 1979
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A woman who went missing in Yorkshire 40 years ago in what was one of the most notorious cases of the era has finally been declared dead by a coroner.

Gloria Bielby went missing from her home on Dawnay Road, in Bilton, near Hull in 1979.

The married Reckitt and Colman secretary, 34, had been having an affair, but it was another smartly-dressed man a neighbour saw her with putting things into the boot of a red Ford Escort outside her home, the last time she was seen.

At an inquest in Hull on Tuesday assistant coroner David Rosenberg said the most important evidence in declaring her dead was that she had never contacted her son, who she “obviously loved greatly”.

Five months after she went missing, extra officers were drafted in with police investigating it her disappearance in earnest as a possible criminal case.

But despite extensive inquiries and a cold case review which concluded in 2014, no evidence of foul play was found - or that she is still alive.

Mr Rosenberg said Mrs Bielby would have been drawing a pension by now, but there was no evidence of her doing so and “no proof of life on any data record.”

“Over 40 years have elapsed and no evidence has been produced about Mrs Bielby trying to contact her son or other members of her family.”

Mrs Bielby had a tangled personal life, living “virtually separate lives” but sharing the same roof as her husband.

She was having an affair with a married man, a sales manager, who believed she was going to leave her husband for him “some time” in 1979.

But the court heard the 34-year-old was “never short of invitations for lunches and evenings out” and “had other boyfriends, but nothing serious”.

Statements taken in 1979 were read to the inquest in Hull, which said around 9.30pm on February 1 1979, she visited her twin sister who lived across the road, after being dropped off by the boyfriend, and went to sleep on the sofa.

Around 11pm she went home and asked her husband for £2,950 for a car she was going to buy. It was the last time he saw her.

His statement said: “About 6am on Friday February 2 the alarm went off, I woke up and just after this I heard Gloria leave the house and a car leave the driveway.”

At first he assumed she was in her father’s car, but realised it was in the garage. Later he found all her good clothes had gone.

He said: “I realised then that she had left me; I always thought in the back of my mind she would leave me but I was still upset.”

She had also taken more than £500 in cash which was meant to pay for her son’s boarding fees.

Her boyfriend told police that according to Mrs Bielby, her husband was “indifferent” to their affair. He described her as having “very expensive tastes” and liking to go “to the best places in town”.

The pair, who first met at the Westfield Country Club in Cottingham, had been talking about getting married.

“I thought prior to her disappearance that the time was imminent,” his statement said. A few months before she went missing he asked whether she had a passport.

She said she had, adding: “You never know when you need one.”

He had not heard from her since dropping her off on February 1, but doubted suggestions that she had gone off with someone else because he “saw her every evening”.

However a neighbour recalled another man “a smart man who always wore a suit and collar and tie” visiting about twice a week at lunchtime.

His red car was still outside the house at 12.15pm: “I could hear people running up and downstairs and saw Gloria and the man putting things into the boot of the car.”

Detective Superintendent Matt Baldwin said: “We have a number of unsolved cases which are never closed.

“Gloria Bielby’s disappearance is one such case which will continue to be reviewed by the Major Crime Unit.”

Mr Rosenberg said he hoped the hearing would give her family "some closure".

While he was able to find that she had died “the date, whereabouts and circumstances” of her death were still unknown.

He said he could not “imagine what the family is going through.”

He said: “Not knowing is bad enough, losing a loved one but not knowing what happened or having a place to go to pay respects must be unbearable.

“Certainly this case has been high profile and having to live through this must have been very difficult in the intervening 40 years."

He said he was pleased to hear the police’s reassurance that the case would “remain open and be up for regular annual reviews”.